Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, took office in 1901 with six children and more animals than the White House had ever seen. He was known for his love of animals, which he passed down to his children, who all grew up with multiple pets. Some of the pets were unusual, causing some controversy. For a period, his son Quentin, for example, kept snakes as pets.
Quentin Roosevelt’s Pet Snakes
Quentin Roosevelt, like his father when he was younger, was depicted as a sickly young child. Quentin raised a fuss in the White House as a child with his snakes. Quentin had snakes as pets, and according to sources, Quentin’s snake went missing right before the family returned to Washington. Fortunately, the snake was discovered shortly before they left. When they got in Washington, though, the snake appeared to be drowsy, so Quentin brought it to a pet shop to see if it could be perked up. According to legend, Quentin was so depressed at the prospect of being separated from his snakes for even a short period of time that the owner gifted him with a King snake and two smaller snakes.
King snakes are part of the Lampropeltis genus, which also includes milk snakes and four other species. There are roughly 45 subspecies known among them. Their food is ophiophagous and they are nonvenomous.
King snakes are mostly terrestrial, but they are also capable climbers and swimmers. They kill their food via constriction and devour other snakes (ophiophagy), even deadly snakes. Lizards, rodents, birds, and eggs are also eaten by king snakes. Although the common king snake is immune to the poison of other snakes and eats rattlesnakes, it is not immune to the venom of snakes from various regions.
Size and colors of king snakes vary greatly. Some are subtle browns to black in color, while others are highly marked in white, reds, yellows, grays, and lavenders that form rings, longitudinal stripes, speckles, and saddle-shaped bands. Rat snakes and pythons can exert twice as much constriction force relative to body size as king snakes like the California king snake. Such powerful coils may be an adaptation to snake and other reptile prey that can tolerate lower blood oxygen levels before asphyxiating, according to scientists.
Emily Spinach the Snake
Theodore Roosevelt’s eldest kid, Alice, his only child with his first wife (who died just days after giving birth), was the most hyperactive and was notorious for her often outlandish conduct. When it comes to her pets, she had a garter snake named Emily Spinach “because it was as green as spinach and as thin as my Aunt Emily.”
Alice Lee Roosevelt was born at 6 West 57th Street in Manhattan, the Roosevelt family residence. Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt, her mother, was a Boston banking heiress. Her father, Theodore, was a member of the New York State Assembly at the time. Alice Roosevelt was an Oyster Bay Roosevelt and a descendant of the Schuyler line.
Alice, Roosevelt’s 17-year-old daughter (and one of Washington’s most beautiful females), also had a pet snake named Emily Spinach. During enormous White House feasts, she loved hiding the snake under a covered dinner dish and waiting for visitors to shout when Emily appeared.
Emily is a garter snake. Garter snakes are small to medium-sized snakes belonging to the genus Thamnophis in the family Colubridae that are generally harmless. Thamnophis species are native to North and Central America, ranging from the subarctic plains of Canada to Costa Rica.
Garter snakes can be found in a wide range of environments, including woods, woodlands, fields, meadows, and lawns, but they are always near water, usually a nearby wetland, stream, or pond. This is due to the fact that amphibians make up a significant portion of their diet. Garter snakes are frequently found near small ponds surrounded by dense weeds.
Garter snakes have sophisticated pheromonal communication systems. By following their pheromone-scented trails, they may locate other snakes. Male and female skin pheromones are so dissimilar that they may be easily distinguished. Male garter snakes, on the other hand, can produce both male and female pheromones.
Garter snakes communicate by pheromones via the vomeronasal organ, which absorbs chemical cues in the environment through tongue flicking movement. Garter snakes are carnivorous, as are all snakes. Slugs, earthworms (night crawlers, as red wigglers are toxic to garter snakes), leeches, lizards, amphibians (including frog eggs), minnows, and rodents are among the creatures they eat. Because food might be limited or abundant, garter snakes often adapt to consuming whatever they can find, whenever they can find it. Although they prefer to eat live animals, they will occasionally consume eggs.
Garter snakes were once thought to be non-venomous, but discoveries in the early 2000s revealed that they do produce a neurotoxic venom. Despite this, the small amounts of comparatively mild venom produced by garter snakes cannot seriously injure or kill humans, and they also lack an effective means of delivering it.
Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, had the most animals of any former American president. From 1901 through 1909, he carried the idea of having animals in the White House to a new level, thus turning the White House into a zoo. Nature and animals have long attracted Theodore Roosevelt. Specimens acquired for museums bear witness to his legacy today. His six children inherited his passion for animals, which included snakes, dogs, cats, a badger, birds, a bear, guinea pigs, horses, a hyena, and five dogs!